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[173] entrance, aided by the improvised fleet of Admiral Buchanan, which consisted of the wooden gunboats Morgan and Gaines, each carrying six guns, and Selma, with four guns, and the ram Tennessee of six guns —in all, twenty-two guns and four hundred seventy men. On August 4, 1864, Fort Gaines was assaulted by the United States force from the sea side of the beach. The resistance made was feeble, and the fort soon surrendered. On the next day Admiral Farragut stood into the bay with a force consisting of four monitors, or ironclads, and fourteen steamers, carrying one hundred ninety-nine guns and twenty-seven hundred men. One ironclad was sunk by a torpedo. Admiral Buchanan advanced to meet this force, and sought to run into the larger vessels with the Tennessee, but they avoided him by their superior speed. Meanwhile the gunboats became closely engaged with the enemy, but were soon dispersed by his overwhelming force. The Tennessee again stood for the enemy and renewed the attack with the hope of sinking some of them with her prow, but she was again foiled by their superior speed in avoiding her. The engagement with the whole fleet soon became general, and lasted an hour. Frequently the Tennessee was surrounded by the enemy, and all her guns were in action almost at the same moment. Four of their heaviest vessels ran into her under full steam, with the purpose of sinking her. While surrounded by six of these heavy vessels which were suffering fearfully from her heavy battery, the steering gear of the Tennessee was shot away, and her ability to manoeuvre was completely destroyed, leaving the formidable Confederate entirely at the disposal of the enemy. This misfortune, it was believed, saved the greater part of Farragut's fleet. Further resistance becoming unavailable, the wounded admiral was under the painful necessity of ordering a surrender. His little fleet became a prey to the enemy, except the Morgan, which made good her escape to Mobile.

This unequal contest was decidedly creditable to the Confederacy. The entire loss of the enemy, most of which is ascribed to the Tennessee, amounted to quite three hundred in killed and wounded, exclusive of one hundred lost on the sunken ironclad, making a number almost as large as the entire Confederate force. On August 22d Fort Morgan was bombarded from the land, also by ironclads at sea, and by the fleet inside. Thus Forts Powel, Morgan, and Gaines shared the fate of the Confederate fleet, and the enemy became masters of the bay. On this, as on other occasions, the want of engines of sufficient power constituted a main obstacle to the success which the gallantry and skill of the seamen so richly deserved.

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